“In Love with a Shadow…”

Sometimes I would see her in the early morning. It was like she’d appear out of the mist that rose with the sun. I loved that about her, you could tell by the way the light played off her eyes and hair that she and sunlight were related, somehow. They sparkled together with utmost familiarity, each blurring into the other into some new shade of bright beauty.

But these times were few, as I rarely get up early. And even less moved to go outside into the frozen dawn if I happen to be. If I am up, it’s for no good thing.

That’s Greta’s strange power, though. When my thoughts turn weak or to destruction, if I’m poised to begin some great thing that can only hurt…, there she is. “What are you doing?” is always her first question. “Should you be doing that?” always her instant interruption.

“I’m just trying to understand!” is always my excuse.

There are few times that we are actually together, though. As much strength as I can take from her, her absence is an open-wound. When I light up a cigarette, she’s there, in the corner of my eye with a frown. When I turn to behold her, the cigarette forgotten, discarded, it turns out it was only a tall bush, after all. When the work is hard and I want to scream, her hand is there, but when I look to it, it was just the wind.

The window to my room is always open, the screen moves up and down loosely. If she chooses, she can get in and out at any time. It was one of our secrets, we shared so many together, but she had a few of mine, I had one of hers.

When the light fades, I know she isn’t coming. Sunset is the last hope.

Because I’m weak, I always think it’s because she remembers I’m a bad person. Well, just a person, really, but sometimes that’s bad enough. I read what I’ve tried to capture since I’ve seen her last, a small tribute to some memory without her. But even that reads like it was written by a failure and I can’t bear to show her. I hang my head in shame, my room is dark. There is only our bed and I know its there because I’m sitting on it.

“Why do you think that?” her hand is on my shoulder, her voice gentl in my ear.

“Because I don’t understand! I’m working really hard, trying to do all the right things. Going against my very nature…!” I began, getting worked up. My eyes were already hot with tears, but more because she was here, not because I was sad. It took everything I had not to react.

If I went to embrace her, she’d back up and I couldn’t bear that separation.

“And you are doing so well! But, you won’t ever be able to understand. It’s not for you to do so. Someone else will get this, another someone will get that. Your thing is something else entirely and you’ll get that. You may even understand it already and that’s the part you have to figure out. Where exactly it is inside you.”

I couldn’t help it. I turned to face her. What did I expect? There was nothing there, only echoes. “Why do I deserve this?”

She’s just that way. It seems she can just turn and …vanish. If she leaves before me, I can never follow.

At times, I figure she wants me to be a statue. Firm, stony, still, and silent. Something you can see from a distance and admire, even dream what it might look like up close. What sort of flaws and features it has that can’t be seen from somewhere else, the endless possibilities that “never knowing” brings.

I can be a statue. I can stand tall, and be still. I can crumble, I can be rebuilt, and I’ve always been silent. But those times are over. I can never be silent. Now I have to find my voice and use that because I know I can’t hold her anymore.

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